The Greatest ADHD/Diet Story Ever Told

The Greatest ADHD/Diet Story Ever Told
I was recently reading the posts on an ADHD parent forum when I read a post by a mother who screamed (as best you can on a forum post), "IF ONE MORE PERSON TELLS ME THAT MY ADHD KID IS REACTING TO WHEAT I AM GOING TO TEAR ALL MY HAIR OUT". This mom was clearly on the thin edge and the ADHD diet fanatics were clearly about to put her over the edge. Diet conversations make us all cranky.

Interestingly, a similarly cranky and lively forum conversation was also going on at another Inattentive ADD Forum page over a similar discussion. People have strong opinions about elimination diets, allergies and ADHD and opposing views seem to bring out angry outburst. One seasoned poster reported on the ADD forum (without an apparent reference) that elimination diets help only 1% of people with ADHD and any discussion about elimination diets and ADHD treatment were "stupid".

Another poster on this same ADD forum said that she had personally spoken to Russell Barkley, PhD (the most respected authority on all topics ADHD) about junk food and that he reported that artificial colors seemed to cause behavioral problems in children less than 10 years of age but not in older kids or adults.

This comment was most interesting to me because the official ADHD professional community message is a very black and white one that essentially states this, "Eat a healthy diet but, overall, diet is not a significant component in the treatment of ADHD". I believe that Dr. Barkley probably has a reason to believe that diet does matter for young kids but we will never know about why he believes this because the official statements out of the ADHD expert community downplays the role of diet all together.

Diet is important in ADHD because it is an important factor in the management of all chronic illnesses. ADHD diet recommendations are an important first step in the treatment of ADHD and most pediatricians, and primary care providers recognize the importance of diet in managing illness.

The diet connection to ADHD is still a bit of a mystery. For many clinicians, it is more important to give a consistent message than it is to muddy the message with statements like, "diet may contribute to some behavioral symptoms in some people with ADHD". Clinicians do not have as much time as they would like with patients and providing certain, quick, unambiguous and implementable treatment plan message is often the key to symptom improvement.

Medical providers are more likely to write a prescription than to explore diet problems because drug treatment is quick, unambiguous, and implementable and provide certain results. Dietary habits are close to impossible to change, improvements from diet changes do not happen quickly, improved symptoms do not occur for everyone and if they do occur the patient is often unsure of how or why they improved.

Several researchers are trying to understand when, how and why diet matters in the treatment of some people with ADHD. Some scientist believe that it is related to genetic variations that cause some children with ADHD to have a non IGE histamine reaction to food additives or to certain foods Other researchers are looking at the connection between food preservatives such as Sodium Benzoate and possible amino acid and neurotransmitter abnormalities.

There are many biological processes that diet may change and which, in turn, may cause or improve ADHD behavioral symptoms but to say that ADHD behavior is related to wheat and dairy allergies is too simplistic just as saying that there is no connection between diet and ADHD behavior is too simplistic.

Until we know more, people on all sides of the diet issue will continue to argue with each other. This ADHD/Diet narrative is far from over. We are actually just at the beginning and the plot is thickening. When all the plot twists are worked out, we will know so much more and this story may turn out to be the greatest ADHD story that we have heard in a while. Stay tuned, the pace is quickening.

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